Judge Amos Saunders dies of adenocarcinoma allegedly linked to courthouse asbestos

19 Aug 2015 by under Legal, People

Judge Amos C Saunders 100x100 Judge Amos Saunders dies of adenocarcinoma allegedly linked to courthouse asbestosA man who once dedicated his life to meting out justice from the bench may have had his life cut short as a result of a hazardous material in his own courtroom. , a form of cancer that has been linked to asbestos exposure, took the life of retired New Jersey Judge Amos Saunders on Aug. 16 of this year. The litigation pinning the judge’s alleged asbestos exposure to the Passaic County courthouse will “absolutely” continue on and be amended to a wrongful death case, Saunders’ attorney, Rachel Placitella, told the New Jersey Law Journal.

In 1983, the suit claims, Passaic County courthouse underwent an extensive asbestos-removal project handled by contractor A.H. Environment Inc., and consulting engineer Richard A. Alaimo Engineering Associates (later inherited by Alaimo Group) in charge of the operation. Despite being aware of the present danger the asbestos posed, the defendants, consisting of Passaic County and the two businesses, are accused of being negligent in terms of “proper hygiene procedures,” causing toxic chemicals and substances to return home on the clothes and skin of courthouse employees.

Asbestos handling, removal and disposal are all strictly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) because of the serious risks associated with the carcinogen. While asbestos may not be dangerous when left intact, when it is crushed or broken during renovation or removal, the microscopic fibers released can be inhaled or ingested. This type of exposure can lead to a number of deadly diseases and illnesses, including the deadly cancer mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen or, in rare cases, the heart. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

The lawsuit, which was originally filed in April 2013 in Passaic County but moved to , was recently granted a victory when Superior Court Judge Ana Viscomi denied motions by the two defendants requesting a summary judgement. The victory, however, was short-lived when Saunders passed just four days following the ruling.

After 23 years on the bench, Saunders left the bench in Passaic County in 2000 to become of counsel at Carlet, Garrison, Klein & Zaretsky in Clifton. He will be remembered as an expert in the laws pertaining to professional boxing. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-New Jersey, paid tribute to Saunders while on the floor of Congress in 2000, saying he was a “nationally respected expert on the legal aspects of the sport of boxing.” Pascrell went on to say how the International Boxing Digest magazine listed Saunders as number 16 in the magazine’s list of boxing’s 50 most influential people.

“Judge Saunders dedicated his life to the people of the state of New Jersey and the lawyers who appeared before him. We will dedicate ourselves in his memory to achieving justice for his family,” Placitella said.

New Jersey Law Journal


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